In no particular order, this is what I have to be grateful for this year--
(In delightful news, many of these are repeats from last year.)
1. Good friends:
While I have no idea who these fine people are in the picture, this is from a trip to the Parkway Theater to watch World Cup soccer with two friends in the Bay Area (who were seated beside us, not in front of us). This past weekend, I was with my mom, and we were talking about friends. I admitted, happily, that my friendships here in my home in California are as wonderful as those I have had in Illinois, Ohio, Utah, and Colorado. I am so grateful to have these friends in my life--and some I have not seen in years, as evidenced by a trip to Utah, where immediately I felt known by and felt like I knew my dear friends. Yes, marriages and children and jobs that pay more than minimum wage and houses have happened. But the friendship remains, true and strong. So it may have been only a year since I had seen my BFF or a shocking four years since I had seen my college best friend, but they--combined with these lovely friends who are scientists, mathematicians, history teachers, engineers, new moms (wow, there are a lot of you!), counselors, real estate agents or transplanted back to their home states in order to become farmers--top the list of what I am grateful for this year.
While I had to take a hiatus in September because I hurt my shoulder (and I might have to take another one because my niece broke my back), I have not only loved teaching but more deeply have loved taking my classes. My brain=sometimes wild. Yoga=quieting that wildness. How I love (need) that.
3. Good music:
A few years ago, the husband got a bee in his bonnet to see more music. That lone bee has turned into a full blown hive, and I have benefited immensely.
4. Beaches and baseball:
If I could think of the two things I love the most, I would say beaches and baseball. I have had plenty of both in my life this year. And I suspect there will be plenty more. Both are about the art of sitting still and then waiting for big things to happen.
5. Unexpected beauty:
November announced itself with a pretty tough loss; however, in the midst of it all, we kept finding beauty: in deer, in snow, in a frost-covered canyon with a restaurant filled with friends, in a sunset, in a walk around an old campus, in life (such as these lovely deer) in unexpected, snow-dusted fields.
6. The little house in Mendocino:
It has become a little nest, a home away from home, a refuge, a solace, a place to regroup. We are lucky to have it and the family within it (and without it) to go to. This afternoon, we will join many of the husband's family for dinner. How lovely.
7. Having two true homes:
In addition to the little house up the coast, it's lovely to know that I truly do have two homes: one in a flat (currently cold) land with big skies and strong winds; the other with hills, fog, and (sometimes, but not often enough) rain. But even more so, I love knowing I have family--complex, complicated, sad, healthy, unhealthy, happy, loving family--in both.
8. Last-minute connections:
From a quick trip to Utah to a hurriedly-prepared trip for the niece to California, we have been able to connect and reconnect with others, and such an ability is one I am essentially grateful for. Recently, I was back in Illinois, and due to the weather and my own inherent flakiness, so many people had to be flexible; however, we saw them all, be it at the Rib Shack or Lincoln's Presidential Museum, a little Irish Pub in Naperville or in front of Barnes and Noble, and I am grateful for their insistence that nothing come between our seeing each other. I am equally grateful for the connections that have not been so last minute--from the Seattle-ite coming to visit and reconnecting with my cousin from Arizona at my great aunt's 90th birthday party, to my dad's annual pilgrimage to Sacramento--these have been sweet, indeed.
9. My little family:
We are down one cat this year, and our old bird lived a darned good life. The husband and I have been away for a week (wherein we drove for 11 hours and did not once want to throttle the other) and we have returned to two kitties. The cuddling on the couch, the early morning insistence that one be petted, the chattering and the being underfoot: I suspect that we were missed.
From reinstituted Family Feasts to the National Heirloom Food Exposition, I have gotten to have some really good food this year. As always, I am grateful to have this little place to write it all down; I love having a place to think about food. All of it. Whenever possible. Starting in January, I will be re-upping my posts in honor of the blog's 5th anniversary. I will be cooking page 215 (you know, to honor 2015 without having books that have 2,015 pages). The fun is in cooking things that I wouldn't normally cook (chicken giblets, blood sausage, eclairs, and lamb shawarma are on the docket for the coming year--stay tuned!) and going back to some family favorites (including potato pizza and bolognese sauce). Thanks for reading along. I love having you share this love with me. Have a wonderful thanksgiving. Feast well.